Sunday, January 29, 2012

EWU Eagles dominate the paint and the Montana State Bobcats 69 to 53

The Eagles (4-5, 10-12) looked mostly dominate as the ran away with another double digit victory over the Bobcats (6-3, 11-9).  It was immediately striking that this is a match up that favored the Eagles.  Coach Hayford recognized that his big men could take on the Bobcats inside and win.  His game plan called for dribble penetration, attacking the key and forcing their opponent to crash down inside.  That left multiple wide open shots on the outside, especially in the first half where the Eagles shot 3 of 7 from beyond the three point line to take a 37-28 lead into the half.  

Cliff Colimon drives into the paint
photo from
The Bobcats game plan defensively seemed to be focused on stopping Collin Chiverton (#24) and in that they were successful as Chiverton went 3 of 12 from the field including 2 of 5 from 3pt range notching only his fourth game of the season with less than 8 points.  The Eagles were aggressive on the boards grabbing 13 offensive rebounds and putting up 14 points on those second chances.

Still, the most impressive part of this performance was not the offense.  The Eagles defense clamped down on the Bobcats like a vice holding them to 30.8% from the field, 21.1% from 3pt range.  The Eagles also forced 20 turnovers, made 10 steals and 4 blocks holding the Bobcats to their fourth lowest point total of the season.  The Eagles were clearly led in this by their trio of big men: Cliff Ederaine (#42) with 4 defensive rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal; Treymane Johnson (#20) with 6 defensive rebounds, 2 steals and a block; and Laron Griffin (#15) whose stats were misleading as he seemed to be everywhere on the defensive side grabbing 11 defensive rebounds and a steal.

Laron Griffin slams his way
to a double-double; photo from
Coach Hayford was asked about Griffin’s performance, “I didn’t feel like it was a must-win game, but Laron told the team it was.  You need to back it up when you talk like that and he did that with a double-double.”

The Eastern big men played solid games including Griffin’s double-double of 14 rebounds and 12 points, combining for 40 pts on 16 of 28 shooting, 30 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 3 assists in 92 minutes.  Cliff Colimon (#11) also played a solid game on both sides of the ball notching 11 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals, but more importantly it was his dribble penetration that time and again caused the Bobcats defense to collapse providing open looks for his teammates who shot 22 of 50 (44%) from the field.

I mentioned in my preview that the Eagles needed bigger contributions from their bench.  I looked for that to come from Parker Kelly (#10) and Jodan Hickert (#25).  Instead it was Kelly and Tremayne Johnson (#20) who led an Eagle bench that scored 19 points, raked in 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 1 block while contributing 65 minutes of playing time.

So that’s some of the good stuff, but this game was also far from perfect.  Jeffrey Forbes (#22), got into immediate foul trouble and pretty much stayed there throughout the game, limited to just 16 minutes and 2 points.  As mentioned above Chiverton had a rough night shooting the ball, but did show up in key moments defensively with 2 steals and a block.  Colimon too had a rough night shooting only 5 of 14 from the field and 1 of 3 from beyond the arc.  Hickert, Jaylen Henry (#34) and Kevin Winford (#23) were all essentially non factors combining for 17 minutes 0 pts and 3 rebounds.  

More troubling still the Eagles again gave up too many trips to the foul line (26) and did not get enough of their own chances (14).  Many of the Eagles fouls were of the variety that are acceptable and the Eagles did hit 71.4% of their free throw shots, but consistently giving their opponents nearly twice as many free throw attempts is hurting this team.  

For the Bobcats, this was a story of being over matched physically and unable to keep the pace of the game fast enough to nullify the Eastern big men.  They rode a series of turn overs and missed shots to a 12 to 4 run to close the score to 46 to 42 with less than twelve minutes remaining before the Eagles slowed the game down and pulled away.

The Bobcats spread the ball effectively with 8 players scoring and 4 of them scoring 8 or more points led by Sophomore Forward Shawn Reid (#20) who scored 10 points in 16 minutes before fouling out.